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No More Fumbling Around in the Dark

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Sometimes I find myself scratching my head when I think about how things work in the industry—low order-to-fill ratios, in particular, is one issue I have yet to figure out. Why do so many job orders go unfilled, some without even a single cycle of recruiting time? As the market crawls out of the recession, job orders are flowing in again. But many firms are short staffed, which means covering every job order is going to be a big challenge. With this in mind, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to our clients about how they allocate their time. In particular, how they decide whether or not to work an incoming job order. Not All Orders Are Created Equal I hear over and over again that managers use several rules of thumb to prioritize orders. They work those that are from clients that:

  • Have a long-standing relationship
  • Pay a great rate
  • Are relatively easy to recruit for

These criteria shift as the market changes and client relationships evolve. A good fee today could look low in as little as three months. Clients can agree to give you an exclusive on their orders and that would dramatically change their rank in the food chain.

Just Use the Force. The challenge here is that the job order prioritization scheme is highly subjective and ultimately locked in people’s heads, like “The Force” in Star Wars. Some account managers try to use a flag on the job order within their ATS to designate that it’s higher priority, but these flags can become chronically abused and thus, ignored. Job order prioritization strikes me as too critical to business success to remain so subjective. Consider its impact on critical factors like:

  • Client retention: while some firms are incredibly disciplined about saying “no” when they’re too busy to fill an order, most feel they have to tell clients “yes” because clients who hear “no” too frequently eventually stop coming back. But if staff is not prioritizing the jobs of important clients and they go unfilled, they may stop coming back anyway.
  • Revenue: prioritizing jobs that have higher probability of success and bigger spreads means more will close and those that do will generate higher margin
  • Expenses: given that industry turnover is 30-40%, at any given time, about a third of a firm’s recruiting staff is fumbling around in the dark before they master “the force” and can prioritize themselves the orders that most deserve their attention.

A Possible Solution: Deal Scoring The solution is to devise a numeric deal score on each order as it’s received. Yes, I was a math major, so of course my solution involves math, but bear with me. The idea here is that you could look at the things like a client’s historical orders-to-fill rate, the fee or spread on the order, the client’s responsiveness to submissions, even the availability of the required skill sets in your candidate pool and give each order a deal score. It could be as simple as giving the deal a number from 1 to 10. Then, recruiters could simply come in each morning, sort the orders by the deal score and get to work on those at the top of the list. This concept is not new to business. In fact, here at Bullhorn we use this approach to solve a similar problem.

Last year, Karen Maloney and our Marketing team generated well over 10,000 potential sales leads – way too many for the Sales team to follow up with an equal degree of diligence. So leads get scored based on where the prospect is in the buying cycle, the potential size of the opportunity, etc. Sales can then focus effort on those leads most likely to generate revenue. This is a well-established approach that “baked in” to our marketing software. By developing a deal scoring process, you will be able to see if a recruiter spends time on low priority orders and point them in the right direction. Ideally, this will help to drive down recruiter turnover and decrease payroll expense, plus improve retention of key clients and grow revenue. Has anyone tried to implement something like this? If so, how well has it worked?